The NFL Draft typically consists of at least 30 WR that are selected. I’ve watched tape on roughly 90 WR prospects that will be eligible this upcoming season. The type, extent, and quality of tape I’ve reviewed varies from prospect to prospect. I gave 45 players a top 30 grade but chose to trim the list down to 30. Here are my Top 30 2018 Draft Eligible WR. Just in case you missed it yesterday, I counted down from 30-21.
20. Christian Kirk – Texas A&M
Christian Kirk is an elite athlete. Kirk had a SPARQ score in high school of 129.30 with a 4.47 40, 39 inch vertical and 41.5 power throw. At 5’11” and 200 pounds, Kirk projects as a slot WR at the next level. Unlike many others on this list that share a similar build, Kirk doesn’t consistently show that he can play bigger. He is best in space and displays strong hands, great burst, vision, and balance. Kirk’s greatest asset is his return ability where he is one of the country’s most distinguished returners and navigates the field like a talented RB. Kirk averages a very pedestrian 11.9 yards per catch for his career and will need to show he can translate his athleticism into more explosiveness as a receiver in 2017.
19. DJ Moore – Maryland
DJ Moore is a versatile player. He is a very good return man and skilled pass catcher. Moore played his high school football in Pennsylvania and averaged an eye-popping 28.9 yards per catch on 35 grabs as a senior. The 5’11”, 215-pound junior has the skillset to be a collegiate running back. He runs with patience, vision, sudden cut ability and burst when he has the ball in the open field. Moore has very strong hands and has shown the ability to play bigger than he is with an impressive catch radius. Moore was the primary deep threat for the Terps in 2016 but didn’t get the type of service from his QB that I’m sure he would have liked. He projects as a slot WR at the next level that can be a great asset as a returner.
18. Juwan Johnson – Penn State
The 6’4” and 225-pound redshirt sophomore is in perfect position to have a monstrous 2017 campaign. Johnson will be the focal point of the potent Penn State passing offense. Johnson will be expected to replace Chris Godwin as the primary outside receiver. Aside from prototypical NFL WR1 size, Johnson has 4.5 speed which is impressive for a player as big as he is. Johnson is an excellent high pointer of the football and knows how to out-physical smaller defenders. His teammates awarded him 2017 Most Improved Player in the Spring. While he is far from a refined prospect, he has both the tools and the opportunity to emerge as one of this class’ premier WR. I have extremely high hopes for him as a prospect.
17. Allenzae Staggers – Southern Miss
Allenzae Staggers stormed onto the college football scene seemingly out of nowhere in 2016. Staggers is a JUCO transfer that caught 62 of his 85 targets for a staggering 18.7 yards per catch and 72.9% catch rate. That combination of explosiveness and efficiency is exceedingly rare. When you watch the film, Staggers regularly uses his great speed to just blow past less athletic defenders, and he has strong hands that help him finish. He had multiple 200-yard receiving games in his first season at the FBS level. Staggers was a former basketball player and still has that very lean body type at 6’1” and 190 pounds. He will need to put on some more weight before the next level but he is a very intriguing prospect.
16. Jauan Jennings – Tennessee
Jauan Jennings is a dog. He is the definition of an alpha that wins with desire and determination. At 6’3” and 205 pounds, he has a great frame to be an NFL WR1. Jennings is a former QB that is still getting acclimated to the WR position. He is a tenacious blocker and also uses that physicality and strength to his advantage on jump balls. I think it’s highly unlikely that Jennings tests well at the combine but his mental makeup and size makes him a prospect that you can’t ignore. I am cautiously very optimistic about him as a prospect, but I really need to see his development in 2017 before I move him any higher up my board.
15. Deon Cain – Clemson
Deon Cain is another very talented, raw prospect. The 6’1” and the 210-pound junior has been one of the most dangerous deep threats in college football over the past two seasons. He has made 72 catches for 1,306 yards at a very impressive 18.1 yards per catch. Cain was a former dual-threat high school QB and is likely just scratching the surface of his potential. He is very quick off the line, and while he hasn’t tested as an elite vertical jumper, he still shows great ability to get up and high-point the football. I see tremendous potential with Cain but would like to see improved focus and consistency. His tape shows more drops than I would like and there are some off-field red flags that are worth monitoring in 2017.
14. Jester Weah – Pitt
At 6’3” and 210 pounds, Jester Weah looks like one of the most NFL-ready players in this class. Weah is a former Wisconsin high school state champion sprinter. The rising senior had a breakout season in 2016 making 36 catches for 870 yards for an incredible 24.2 yards per catch. Weah played in a Pitt offense where he ran a bunch of vertical routes and used his strength and speed to beat single coverage and rip off huge chunks of yardage. He shows strong hands and good body control but does let the ball get in on his body some. Weah had a very late breakout age and will be nearly 24 years old at the end of his rookie season. He has very nice potential, and a continued late surge could make him a coveted NFL prospect.
13. Antonio Callaway – Florida
I am still waiting for Antonio Callaway to have a breakout season. The Miami native has the speed, overall athleticism, and ball skills to be a great WR. The biggest obstacle he’s had to overcome has been inconsistent QB play. Callaway tracks the ball well, has strong hands and is outstanding with the ball in the open field. There is a reason for optimism that 2017 will be his breakout season as relative newcomer, Feleipe Franks, looks to be a nice upgrade for Florida at QB. Callaway can be an asset as a return man but has proven to be a liability at times when he has lost focus on special teams. He wins with his speed and looks to be a nice slot WR and return man at the next level.
12. Calvin Ridley – Alabama
Calvin Ridley is the former top ranked WR in the country. As a freshman, Ridley had an impressive 89 catches, but it only netted 1,045 yards at 11.7 yards per reception. He followed up with a 72 catch for 769-yard season in 2016. Ridley has explosive traits and outstanding athleticism, but his very pedestrian career yards per catch average is a concern. Ridley has 4.4 speed, great hands and does a really nice job tracking the ball and making over the shoulder catches. He has shown he can win on a variety of routes. His natural pass catching ability paired with his athleticism makes him an attractive prospect. The downside is Ridley will be a 24-year-old rookie which diminishes his value.
11 Deebo Samuel – South Carolina
Tyshun “Deebo” Samuel is a dynamic, versatile athlete. In 2016, Samuel scored a TD as a receiver, runner, passer and returner. The 6’0” and 208-pound redshirt junior is a physical player that knows how to win like a bigger receiver. He jumps well, displays nice body control and can make extremely athletic catches. Samuel was plagued by a hamstring issue in 2016, which caused him to miss three games and impacted him for the majority of the season. He was healthy for the bowl game and went for 14 catches and 190 yards. Samuel will need to prove he can stay healthy this season and we should learn a lot more about his ability to consistently create separation and make more explosive plays.
Tomorrow, the top 10!